Monday 31 July 2017

Accepting feedback

I sent a selection of stories that I've written to two of my friends for their opinion. They are both keen readers and they have each been a source of advice and inspiration in their own way over the years. I trust them and value their honesty. Even so, it was a bit of  a 'gulp - here goes' moment when I posted the envelopes.

Well, the results are in and I know what I have to do to improve what I've written. What I found interesting was that while Reader 1 gave me some honest feedback on the actual writing from a technical perspective, Reader 2 had a much more emotional response. As a result, while there was a clear favourite with both of them (the same story), the ones they didn't like so much were different. On these grounds it gives me comfort that the reason I have varied success in competitions is not always because what I'd submitted wasn't any good: it could just be that it wasn't to the judge's taste.

This week's task is to rework as necessary. I was going to publish on Kindle again. However, I had an email from Amazon this afternoon informing me that the email address linked to my account has been changed. Not by me it hasn't! Amazon has frozen my account while this is investigated, which is reassuring, but not a little annoying. I just hope the rogue who has invaded hasn't ordered anything embarrassing in my name.

Thursday 27 July 2017

Places and pareidolia

I was delighted to hear on the Beeb yesterday that the village of Dull in Perthshire is to be twinned with Boring in Oregon. There is also a place in Australia called Bland. Now, this is a nice story in its own right: but it also gives me the opportunity to share this picture with you, taken last week in Northumberland.

Can you actually take a footpath to Tiptoe? Can Twizel be real? And isn't Grindon a character in Harry Potter? I suspect these might be fake names put up by the natives to confuse we visitors.

Mind you, I know that Duddo is real, because I've been there. It has a circle of standing stones that local tourism information leaflets describe as 'North Northumberland's equivalent to Stonehenge'. That might be over-egging it a bit, but on the day we went it was very misty-murky, and not a little spooky. There are five stones and geophys has revealed the sockets for two more.

The stones have been carbon dated at 4,200 years old and they are made of sandstone, so time and erosion have created some amazing images. Can you see the face - or even the face within the face?

Back to place names. Here in Northants we have Cogenhoe, which is pronounced 'cook-no' and the always amusing Tittyho. Can you do better?

Sunday 23 July 2017

Sensory overload

While number two son and his girlfriend and her extended family are lounging round the pool in Tenerife, and hundreds of strangers endure horrific delays at Britain's airport, Mr Thorley and I have returned, smug faced, from a glorious week in - well, if I tell you, do you promise to keep it a secret? I don't really want anyone else to know how peaceful and spacious and crowd free it is in - Northumberland. Pictured is the view from Dunstanburgh Castle: can there be a finer one anywhere?

I could wax lyrical about our adventures, but other people's holiday memories, like their dreams, aren't really that interesting. Indulge me, though, as I share a few snippets that made us smile and ponder while we were away:

  • Overheard: an oh-so-posh mother at The Alnwick Garden calling to her toddler son, 'Noah, sweetheart, come and see the water features!'
  • Overheard: 'He can't be a dwarf, he's eating a banana.'
  • Also overheard: 'Well, it doesn't bother me, I've got no sense of smell.'
  • At Ford and Etal, we learnt about the fighting at Flodden Field in 1513: 10,000 Scottish soldiers were killed in the two hours that the entire battle lasted. Their king, James IV, was among them.
  • Courtesy of performers Andy and Maggie Watchorn (great name), I now know that the Northumberland pipes are so much easier on the ears than Highland pipes.
  • The lanes on the approach to Holy Island smell of garden peas.
  • A northern Gay Pride event route mentioned on local radio was going down Percy Street.
  • Grace Darling was an amazing young woman. On 7 September 1838, aged 22, she risked her life to rescue the stranded survivors of the wrecked SS Forfarshire
  • It is impossible to enter a National Trust gift shop without buying either (a) a notebook or (b) a book mark.

Back to the grindstone tomorrow.

Friday 7 July 2017

CTST 7 July

I'm celebrating friends today.

It's funny how things work out. Number two son vacated the premises some weeks ago, but his bedroom and the front sitting room that was largely his space remain vacant, pending a decision on what to do with them (man cave vs woman sanctuary - you can fill in the gaps, I'm sure). Anyway, the decision has been made for us, because our good friend Deb is about to become temporarily homeless while her house sale/purchase goes through. How slow the wheels of property transactions turn. Rather than her having to rent somewhere for a couple of months she is going to move in with us, which will be lovely.

I had coffee and a catchup with a good yoga friend today. We meet in Melton Mowbray, which is halfway between her home and mine, and we always go to the same cafe, Off The Beaten Path, which serves the best cheese scones in the world.  Jeanette always sends me home with my head full of ideas, and today was no exception.

I met new friends and old at a gathering at 3P Publishing this week, too, where writers and wordsmiths of many styles (some published, some not) congregated for nibbles and the sharing of support and inspiration.

There's sure to be more friends about over the weekend, when I go to a big ole Ukulele Jam at Stanwick Lakes tomorrow and then a festival at Corby Rooftop Arts Centre on Sunday - or possibly a summer fair at Johnny's Happy Place (or maybe both). Aren't I lucky?

Have a good weekend, folks.

Want to join in and celebrate with us? Hop over to Lexa's blog here and sign up.